Smith Engineering Entrepreneurial Initiative

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

The Picker Engineering Program is the first degree-granting engineering program at a women's college in the US. In its first year, the program attracted nineteen students; in 2002, twenty-one students declared Engineering majors. In the fall of 2002, fifty-three students enrolled in the Introduction to Engineering course, more than doubling the target number of enrollees.

The Picker Engineering Program strives to redesign engineering courses to make them more relevant to the challenges facing society today, to women, and to other underrepresented groups. The Engineering Design Clinic (EDC) is the program's senior capstone course. In EDC, student teams solve engineering problems posed by industry sponsors. While this is a valuable exercise, it does not introduce students to entrepreneurship.

With NCIIA funding, EDC E-Teams will have the option to pursue their own project ideas, rather than those posed by an industry sponsor. Teams of two to five students will be invited to submit proposals for a design clinic project based on an entrepreneurial idea in April of their junior year. The EDC Director will select teams to pursue their project ideas. EDC will offer entrepreneurship modules to help the entrepreneurial E-Teams progress through the stages of project development. In addition, E-Teams will work with faculty and advisors from the community, including local business leaders and entrepreneurs. The Picker Program will collaborate with the UMass Five Colleges Entreclub. EDC will offer an E-award to the entrepreneurial team that excels in innovation and entrepreneurship in their project work.